Monday, November 26, 2007

AA News on Wilkerson Trial

Note: This post responds to an earlier version of the blog post by Dave Gershman. That article has been removed and this post now links to the "updated" article.

The Ann Arbor News has published online an article about the trial of Catherine Wilkerson, MD, which starts today, by Dave Gershman entitled "Trial to start for doctor arrested [sic] at protest police". Below find excerpts from the article in italics with my (PM) remarks interspersed.

After police removed one of the protesters, Blaine Coleman, and escorted him outside the room for repeatedly disrupting the lecture, Coleman complained he couldn't breathe and appeared to fall unconscious.

PM: Coleman was not "escorted outside the room," he was outside the room when police attacked to eject/arrest an Iranian woman, who was exercising her First Amendment rights under the University of Michigan's guidelines for "Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression." He came to the woman's assistance in the room and later in the hallway. It was in the hallway that UM police Officer West and Sgt. Connors "took him to the ground," as West's report indicates. I saw Coleman and he was still conscious then but thereafter had two hefty cops on him as he lay face-down on the floor. He said "I can't breathe" just before he lost consciousness.

A police report in the case said Wilkerson was "verbally abusive" to the police and paramedics who treated Coleman. The report stated she ... tried to push past a police officer to talk to Coleman and the paramedics. She also tried to incite a crowd, the police report stated.

PM: I didn't know verbally abusing police was a crime. In any case, there was no "verbal abuse" except telling them what to do so that they would not kill or seriously injure an unconscious man and no profanity or anything that a reasonable person would consider verbal abuse is alleged in the reports.

How does one try to "push past a police officer"? If she pushed him but failed to get past him then that would not be an attempted assault on the police officer but would be an actual assault. But Wilkerson is not charged with doing anything except attempting to assault, resist, or obstruct. These charges are almost Orwellian--"Well, you didn't actually obstruct or resist but ya tried."

As for inciting the crowd, the report of Ann Arbor Officer Kevin Warner is the only one that makes any such reference and it does not use the word "incite." The report claims, "she proceeded to elicit assistance from people in the crowd to assist her stepping forward to question the methods being utilized by medical personnel." I know "incite" is a more exciting verb but it is not supported by the police record.

The reports also make clear that supervisors from both the UM and Ann Arbor Police departments cleared Wilkerson for release after she had been forcibly detained but never handcuffed or required to produce identification. Warner's report says, "... it was determined by Sgt. CONNORS that an arrest of subject one would not be required reference this incident."

Wilkerson ... said she identified herself as a doctor ...

PM: Two, maybe three, of the police reports say the same thing and they also show that she was allowed by police to examine the man and interacted professionally with emergency medical technicans. That ended when the Huron Valley Ambulance supervisor decided to use ammonia on the unconscious man in a dangerous, inefficacious, punitive, and unprofessional manner. Dr. Wilkerson spoke out against this and shortly thereafter was attacked by Officer Warner.

She has said the charges were in retaliation for a complaint she filed with the Ann Arbor Police Department alleging police brutality.

PM: She has said that she was not charged until after she filed her brutality complaint and this is completely accurate. She informally and publicly complained about police actions towards the injured man and other protesters weeks before she filed her formal complaint. The charges were authorized against her by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Susan Junck (Junck is mentioned in three earlier posts on this blog in connection with the Avny case) on January 23, 2007, seven days after she filed her formal complaint. The retaliation was, apparently, driven by all of her First Amendment-protected free speech.

Police investigated her complaint but found no wrongdoing.

PM: Now, there's a surprise: A cop finding a cop innocent of wrongdoing against unarmed civilians. That almost never happens, right? Maybe, it's way past time for a civilian-run police review board with real authority in Ann Arbor.

Tanter ... was invited by a U-M student group and gave a talk called "Stalled international diplomacy and problematic U.S. military options for Iran."

PM: Tanter was invited by the American Movement for Israel. He is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Iran-Contra scandal (see his book Rogue Regimes) and has reportedly advocated a nuclear first strike against Iran. On the night he was at U-M he advocated funding for the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, which is designated by the US State Dept. as a "foreign terrorist organization." He also supported the illegal and unconstitutional US invasion of Iraq in 2003 which he predicted would be a cake walk.

Update and correction: Dave Gershman's story on the trial--"Jury must decide intent"--appeared on p. A3 of Monday's Ann Arbor News. The story is slightly different from the version that appeared earlier on the newspaper's blog. Contrary to what I wrote above at about 3 AM yesterday morning, Officer Warner's report does say: "... it was apparent to Reporting officer that subject number one was attempting to insight [sic] other parties who were present in the crowd."

See also: "A Pandemic of Police Brutality" by Paul Craig Roberts

Last revised: 11/27/2007

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